[com-prac] Wenger's Consortium
- I, too, have read the prospectus for the consortium being put together
by Wenger, McDermott and Snyder. I wish them well. However, I wish to
point out a bothersome inconsistency.
In the opening section of the prospectus (presumably written by
Wenger), it states, "It makes perfect sense to organize a community of
practice on the topic of communities of practice." This is in the
context of introducing a prospectus for a consortium with an $85,000
price tag for membership.
I consider myself reasonably familiar with the literature on
communities of practice (CoPs) and I can point to at least a few of
which I have been a member. In a couple of cases, I was on the
periphery; and, in a couple of other cases, I was at the core. I guess
that's a roundabout way of saying that, as a practitioner, I'm not
intimidated by research or researchers.
So, here goes. Right off the bat, let me state in no uncertain terms
that a consortium does not a community of practice make -- especially a
consortium with an $85,000 price tag for membership! So, although I
wish Wenger et al well in their business venture, it is a business
venture of theirs and not likely to become a community of practice.
(On the other hand, if someone can point me to an example of a CoP with
a big price tag on membership, I'll reconsider my point of view -- and,
no, I do not consider most professional societies or associations CoPs
-- and, judging from the message traffic on the Harvard Busines Review
site, neither do Messrs. Wenger or Snyder).
Speaking personally, I joined this list for two basic reasons: (1) I
have a genuine interest in CoPs (and I like to think that I have some
experience with them as well -- although as a member, not as an
observer or researcher), and (2) like Messrs. Wenger, McDermott and
Snyder, I believe CoPs offer a useful point of leverage for
organizations in which executives and managers would like to tap the
full potential of knowledge and the people who possess and apply it.
So, I'll not join the WSMcD consortium ('cause I don't have $85K lying
around and I wouldn't spend it on that if I did), but I will hang
around this list for a while to see (1) how I might contribute and (2)
what it has to offer.
To paraphrase the Microsoft line, "Where do you want to go today with
Consider this. If it truly is to be a CoP, based on what we know of the current definition of CoP (more like a Zeitgeist, really), does it not naturally follow that the cost of membership would not prohibit the membership relevant parties? Remember, there are many corporate behomouths out there who can afford to participate with that price tag. Would they want to participate in a CoP on community building if the community builders were recruited from a very limitted population? I have not read all the details of his plan, nor have I talked to Etienne specifically about his business model. But you know, I think the private and small-business practitioners among us might have something very very valuable to offer to this new group. There must be a way to work that into the business model.
Research Manager, Lotus Research
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matthew_simpson@..., 617.693.1574; or (fax) 617.693.1407